Overheard in Public Works: 136 Speed Studies ... 5 Valid Citizen Complaints

Jonathan Bass
November 16, 2023

We spoke with a Public Works Director who spent an entire year chasing speeding complaints that turned out to be unsubstantiated.

At Urban SDK, we speak with a lot of Public Works officials.

And when I say a lot, i mean a lot.

Between our Sales and Customer Success teams, we speak, on average, to 200 Public Works directors or traffic engineers each week.

Like I said: A LOT.

So what's this mean? Well, it means that we have our ears to the ground. We hear a lot of interesting stories, challenges, successes, and the occasional offhand comment that is so stunning it drops our jaws.

This is article is about the latter.

Public Works Department fielded how many speeding complaints?!

During an exploration call this past week, one Public Works Director painted quite the picture of their traffic calming process: last year they fielded 136 speeding complaints and, after running studies on them all, determined there were only five valid concerns.

That's not a typo.

Five out of 136.

After the call, when our Account Executive recounted the story, nobody could believe it.

This director fielded more complaints in two weeks than would be valid in the entire year.

Only 4% of their studies warranted true research!

Gobsmacked isn't a strong enough word.

Public Works working for the public

So what's this tell us?

For one, this person is the truest form of a public servant.

They went out time and again, knowing deep in their heart that, statistically, there was no validity to the complaint they were surveying.

Nobody likes doing work that is without purpose. So to roll out there time and again, knowing that the odds were stacked against them, is truly a testament to this person's character.

The other thing is: there has to be a better way.

Think of the time.

The energy.

The resources all spent on chasing a ghost.

Forget giving this person time back in their day. Let's give some meaning.

Just the feeling that their brainpower is going toward something worthwhile instead of some Sisyphean task.

A better way to field speeding complaints

So, yes, here's where Urban SDK comes in.

While we don't always hear such extreme cases, this type of story — in some shape or form — is fairly common in our discussions.

And this is why we have developed — and continue to perfect — a system of record for officials to use, in this case, on road speeds.

With Urban SDK, this director could have pulled up a map of their entire county, checked average, 85%, and 95% speeds over the past few months, and quickly determined if a deep-dive was necessary.

Instead of 5 out of 136, it would have been 5 out of 5.

There would have been 131 quick conversations explaining a lack of need for a study. And then there would have been five truly in-depth studies.

A quicker resolution for all of the concerned citizens and/or council members.

The ability to more acutely focus on road safety in the community.

And a feeling that there were no wasted motions. Time spent on studies was time well spent on studies.

This is why we, at Urban SDK, do what we do — not just to make your day easier, but to make it more meaningful. To help you solve complex problems with better data and technology.

Contact our team to learn how Urban SDK can help with your Traffic Calming initiatives

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